I consume video in the following formats:
* Renting Blu-Rays from Netflix
* Downloading torrents of TV shows
* Infrequently, on-demand streaming from Netflix and Amazon VOD
My living room:
* Is hard-wired with gigabit ethernet to my upstairs main computer
* Has Epson 8500UB projector, projecting on 110" screen
* Has Outlaw Audio 990 receiver (probably upgrade soon since it doesn't do HDMI)
* Nice 5.1 speakers and amps
Because the projected image is 110" diagonal, I try to use the best-quality video possible.
Now, I've been playing with media solutions for a long time now and have yet to find the perfect solution. Some things I've tried:
Mac Mini as a HTPC
* Front Row had a nice interface, but it ultimately didn't support the media formats I wanted
* Plex - I really wanted to like Plex, but the interface was waaaay too complicated and I was plagued by stuttering issues. SPent more time on the support forums than watching stuff.
* Died because of "click of death" hard drive issue. Now an expensive paperweight.
Playstation 3 + PS3 Media Server
* Works most of the time, but annoying UI. No indication of which episodes I've already watched, etc.
* Seems like every time I want to sit down and watch a movie, I am forced to apply some damned PS3 system update which takes an hour
* Prone to stuttering issues. I spend a lot of time on the support forums.
* I don't play video games so PS3 is wasted on me
Now I've read through these forums and am a little confused with all the offerings. Can someone please point me in the right direction? I think what would be ideal for me is a device that:
* sits in my living room
* Is quiet, looks good, and doesn't have any annoying lights on it
* Has a dirt simple UI that my Mom or houseguests can figure out without calling me (I have a Harmony 900)
* I can put a BluRay disc in it and play it
* I can store bit torrent video files directly on its ~1TB HDD and play them
* (optional and not required) it can stream stuff from Netflix / Amazon VOD
* Outputs video to my projecter via HDMI
* Outputs audio to my receiver via toslink or HDMI
* Connects to my intranet via gigabit ethernet, so I can put my media files on its HDD from my main computer upstairs
Does there exist a stand-alone 'set it and forget it' box that does all of this for me? Or is it a universal truth that I'll have to put together a HTPC and pick viewing software, and expect to spend at least a few hours a month on support forums troubleshooting the usual crap like 'it was working fine and suddenly ...', 'I updated my virus software and it started stuttering', 'it freezes up halfway through LOTR', etc? God I'm so tired of configuring things and trolling through support forums. I'd give anything for set-it-and-forget-it.
Thanks and Happy holidays!